Do You Fear The Dark? This Short Story May Be Too Much For You. Inside; In The Corner.

There was something there.

Alex’s hairs stood on end, the feeling of cold spreading across his body in a wave. His heart began to beat faster, and he found his throat catch. He couldn’t see it clearly, but there was another shadow in the darkness. It was malformed, almost shimmering, like it couldn’t decide whether it was part of his world or not. He listened intently, and heard heavy breathing. His own. But there was something else, a high pitched rattle just below it.

There was something there.

He stopped moving, and reached up to his headlamp. The cold metal dug into his fingers as he felt for the switch. It was an unreliable thing, and now was not the time for it to fail.  His girlfriend, Jane, had nagged at him to replace it. She was right. He heard her voice in his head, uttering her proverbial warning. Over and over. ‘It’s dangerous, get a new one.’ He grimaced as his fingers found the switch, but couldn’t move.

There was something there.

His heart raced and his mouth dried up. All the old fairy=tales ran through his head, unbound, circling, spinning, growing. The folklore of monsters and witches filled his consciousness, red eyes and bloodied claws.  Beasts moving in the night, stalking, watching, waiting. He had been terrified as a child, watching the corner of his bedroom in the twilight. The covers had been enough. The high pitch rattle stopped.

There was something there, and it had seen him.

The darkness seemed to rush inwards, become focussed on the mass hiding within it. He began to pick out its contours. It was huge, muscular, and wide. Something moved, and he could swear that he could see wings. No! Wings? Why would it need wings? They were a mile below the surface. What creature would need wings down here? Could it see him? No, it was dark. Very dark.

Maybe that was why it was eating that darkness up.

The rattle began again, faster this time. Whatever it was, it was excited. Alex remembered the route behind him. ‘It’s dangerous’, Jane’s voice came again. It was a straight shot, 10 metres into the pothole. It couldn’t follow him there. But to get there he would need the lamp. And then it could see him. It would chase, and it would get him. He would be pulled into the darkness with it.

There was something there, and it was waiting.

He felt for the hammer on his belt. His adrenaline surged and the cold was all consuming. He found the handle, and pulled it slowly from its hook. It was tiny, but might be enough to get in one hit. Enough to shock it. It probably didn’t expect any resistance. It’s prey down here was tiny, rats, moles. Whatever scurrying things hid in the blackness.

But then why was it so big? What did it feed on? The darkness had almost disappeared, and had become something monstrous. Alex couldn’t quite understand it, and his brain riled at the sight. It threw it back up. Nothing in his fairy-tale could begin to explain it. The creature in the corner was nothing like the shadows in his bedroom. The fairy-tales were a lie, sugar-coating the horrors they told. Jane screamed ‘It.’

It was hanging against the wall, Long spindly arms, coarse and muscled, wiry black veins bulging from a deep azure skin. Huge long claws, maybe a metre, glinted in the still moments of rare light. They were caked in blood, sinew and skin. Its chest was pitted, the ribs carved starkly against its mottled skin. Huge legs, covered in feathers, ended in talons. And its face, oh fuck, its face.

It was smiling. It had a mouth, but it ended in a razor sharp beak. Its eyes were milky white, blind, but rolling left to right. Its head was raised, sniffing the air. Searching. The smile widening as it picked up Alex’s fear. A tongue, purple and thin, lolled from the corner of its maw. Its wings suddenly spread. Its face turned to Alex, and the milky white eyes fixed on his.

There was something there, and it was hungry.

Alex panicked. He flicked the switch, and for a brief second the cave was illuminated. He was in a nest. Bones lay in piles on the floor, torn rucksacks, skin, humans and animals. A little yellow cap with ‘Disney’ written on it. And somewhere in the mountain of gore, tiny white eyes stared frantically. He was in a nest, and mother was hungry. And mother filled his vision.

There was something there. ‘It’ he thought, the words tumbling over and over as the beast began to feed.

This story was written on the fly in around 15 minutes. In the corner across from me sits a copy of Stephen King’s  ‘It’. This was the first horror novel I ever read. I remember one thing distinctly, the feeling of unease. Nothing could ever be as terrifying as the question of what was watching. If you would like to learn more about fear, read my article on the subject.

Perhaps one day I can write a proper horror novel.

What do you think? Let me know!

Image courtesy of Beatrice Murch.

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One comment

  • A yellow cap with ‘Disney’ written on it – absolutely love this line. Settling you into a very unsettling reality. The questions made took me out of the story a bit because they questioned the reality of it but I loved the premise of being in a really uncomfortable (for me, a nightmare!) place and finding something nightmarish that you can’t investigate for fear of being found. LOVE!

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